Insights – Championing Cultural Values with Quinton Hall from Ngāi Tahu Tourism

Insights – Championing Cultural Values with Quinton Hall from Ngāi Tahu Tourism

Good afternoon everybody, we’re here in
Christchurch today and I’m here with Quinton Hall, CE of Ngāi Tahu Tourism. Tourism, one of our fastest growing areas of productivity for New Zealand and also adventure tourism
and tourism in general being one of our areas of growing health and safety risk.
Kia ora Nicole it’s great to have you here. Ngāi Tahi Tourism is a group of tourism operations
that spans New Zealand. From north up in Rotorua with Agrodome and Rainbow Springs, Huka Falls
in Taupō with the Huka Falls Jet and down through the South Island with a number of
operations including Franz Josef where we have Franz Josef Glacier Guides and hot pools,
down into Fiordland with our Hollyford Track business, we have a helicopter business Glacier
Southern Lakes in Queenstown, a number of jet boat businesses down south including Dart
River Adventures and Shotover Jet, as well as some walking businesses. And then up to
Takapō (Lake Tekapo) where we have Earth and Sky which is our star gazing experience.
And soon to come is our new experience up in Auckland which we’re developing with
New Zealand Rugby which is our All Blacks Experience so that’s really exciting for
us. Manaakitanga, Quinton, care for people, what
does that look like for Ngāi Tahu Tourism? That’s a really good question Nicole. So one of the core things that we have at Ngāi Tahu Tourism is our values and that’s really important for us because our values are Ngāi Tahu’s values. And probably the key values
that we live by because of what we do is manaakitanga and rangatiratanga in terms of how we look after our manuhiri or our visitors. Manaakitanga is really core and fundamental to how we do business, looking after our customers, as you said we have about 500 at any given point
within our team, and 500 in our team look after over a million customers, so that’s
a lot of moving parts for a business. So that core value of manaakitanga or looking after
people, caring for people, is a real key component of how we build up our safety culture within
Ngāi Tahu Tourism. And that goes right to the heart of the type of people we have, how
we recruit them, and then how we put them in front of our customers and look after our
customers. So manaakitanga or care for people being the
heart of the business, so what does that look like in bringing that to life? So that’s a really good point, our people are the most important assets we have, one
of our other values is whanaungatanga or family, we refer to our people as te whānau tāpoi,
or tourism family. That’s how we like to treat each other. It is a challenge having
a lot of disparate and diverse organisations within an organisation that are geographically
spread, getting consistency with our people is really important and we’ve worked really
hard about making sure that not only are we in a place working in a business like Shotover
Jet or Huka Falls, but we’re part of the one whānau, we’re part of te whānau tāpoi.
One of the things we do in terms of connecting with our people is we gift a taonga pounamu,
or a toki, to each of our people so it’s a really important part of that. So everyone
that starts with us we have what we call a mihi whakatau, where we welcome our new whānau
to our wider family and then we gift them a piece of taonga pounamu. The cool thing
about that is it connects us as one whānau across our organisations, so we now know that
we’re connected there. We have a sense of whānau in terms of we have a sense of belonging
to the wider Ngāi Tahu whānau. And the really nice thing that I like about this is that
all our pounamu is cut from one kōhatu, one stone. So one stone for one family. That is
a really great way to connect our people together to start with. Then we work on, how do we
get that consistency in terms of safety processes and we have a number of ways we do that.
So first of all consistency in our messaging. My newsletter that goes out always has a safety
message. Other than that, all our business plans have a consistent safety plan. And then
all our performance agreements have a consistent message in terms of safety. All of our meetings
start with a conversation around health and safety, that’s consistent. All of my general
managers have a quarterly goal of having conversations every quarter with our people, and observations.
The board have a process of maintaining those conversations in connection with our people.
We again maintain that consistency across the entire organisation.
Often when people talk about health and safety they talk about compliance and they talk about
paperwork. And they talk about systems. What was really interesting about what you raised
there is the system isn’t about paperwork; the system is about having a structured way
of incorporating conversations and regularity of discussion around health and safety issues
and everybody sharing ownership of health and safety issues. And I think that’s a
really good example of best practice, you’re actually bringing it to life in a way that’s
meaningful for your business. We were talking offline before we started
here and we were talking about caring for customers, how sometimes your personal safety
sort of is secondary to the care for the customer. And also overlay that you’ve got customers,
in your case, that are looking for an extreme experience or excitement or might actually
be doing something that looks or feels unsafe for them, or has a bit of risk associated
with it. So how do you in your business manage the customer desire for ‘yahoo I’m going
to go for a risk and I’m really gonna take some risk and my life’s going to be on the
edge’, and managing the safety of your staff, your health and safety in your workplace,
your business reputation and keeping your customers safe as well?
Just one point there Nicole, no one’s life is on the edge, it’s all very safe and we
take a great deal of pride in the work that we do. So we have a whole lot of systems in
place around recruiting the right people and around training. And my view is, we’ve got
a lot of moving parts, we’ve got a lot of moving things, we’ve got jet boats, we’ve
got aircraft, we have coaches, we have tractors, we have trailers, we have all these things
that we move our customers around on and maintaining that to the very highest level is really important
to us. We have a strong maintenance programme across all of our businesses which is really
key and important. I think the second part of that is having
our people really well trained. Making sure that the people we have in those positions
are the best that they can be. That means that they are well, they’ve got the highest
level of training they can have, and they are delivering that experience really safely.
And the last component for that is not taking risks. And everything we build in terms of
our systems and processes, conversation is really important, but there’s a whole lot
of systems and process that sit in behind that are really important and are a significant
part of the work that we do in that space and it builds up a big piece of that. Making
sure all those systems and everything are in place and then making sure that we’re
delivering that safe experience are core and fundamental.
And we also talked about how we recruit some of those people. Our jet boat drivers, we’ve
done some research into what makes a good jet boat driver and one of the critical components
for jet boat drivers, and it turns out for pilots and airline pilots, is spatial awareness.
So now when we’re hiring we test our people for spatial awareness and how good they are
in that space. Because we know they’ll be better jet boat drivers, we know they’re
going to be good at what they do. So that’s the first thing, it’s core and fundamental,
then we need to make sure they’re going to be part of our whānau, we need to make
sure they’re going to live our values, and that’s all part of that. My view is hiring
is probably one of the hardest things to get right, but it’s probably one of the things
we should invest the most time in. Because getting the right people into our family is
really important. You’ve got, I imagine, quite a flexible
workforce where people come in and go out, so how long do you invest in training new
people when you’ve got a casual workforce coming in and out. How do you bring those
people in and take them through that process? I guess it depends on the role, we’ve obviously
got quite a diverse workforce and quite a few different roles. As an example, a glacier
guide has quite a long process in terms of learning how to guide on the ice, how to do
that safely, how to use ropes, how to do all those sorts of work. That’s quite a long
lead time. Our jet boat drivers as an example, they’re required to have 50 hours training,
as a minimum we do twice that before they take a customer on-board a boat.
And we’ve got our own internal programmes that go above and beyond the minimum requirements
to make sure that we’re comfortable, that we are showing that manaaki to our manuhiri.
People coming into your business think that they’re taking risks, right. There’s a
really interesting paradigm in New Zealand where culturally we seem to conflate negatively
the management of health and safety and the stifling of innovation and risk taking. So
‘if I do this health and safety stuff it will stop me from being risk taking’. What
I really liked about your comment before is that you’re actually as a business saying
that’s not true. What you’re actually doing is letting them have the experience
of risk but de-risking that experience. There’s a couple of things there for me.
One is our vision is all about being the best, but when you break it down it’s about never
being the best. It’s about always striving to be better than we are today. And the way
I like to talk to our team is, if we think we’re the best at anything then we’re
in trouble. We’re either setting a low benchmark, or we’re not aiming high enough. And how
we talk about our health and safety is never resting. We need to keep moving.
It’s not okay to hurt anyone. We’ve got a million customers, there’s a lot of moving
things, people will stumble and trip when they’re walking but that’s not okay. We’ve
got to look at every single component, every single source of harm and take it out of the
business. I’ve seen some of the work that WorkSafe
have been doing about those conversations, speaking up and those sorts of things, we
have to encourage our people to do, because it’s so important It’s not okay as senior
members of the organisation or managers or people leaders within our organisation to
allow our people to be hurt. If you were to give a gem to people about
the value proposition of doing health and safety well or the aspects that are important
to your business, what would that gem be? From an iwi perspective, from a Ngāi Tahu
perspective, we’re an intergenerational organisation. We’re not thinking about next
year, we’re not thinking about five years; we’re talking about our children and our
children’s children. One of the things that I think has been really
interesting recently is that conversation about sustainability. Sustainability of our
planet and hearing our kids talk about recycling and about the planet and what we’re going
to do and what we’re doing. And seeing our young people come into our workforce and actively
ask us about what we’re doing to ensure we’ve got a planet for the next generation
is really exciting for me. What we need to do is start to elevate those
other conversations about safety and make sure that our kids are having those conversations
and they’re coming into the workforce with an expectation that things will be safe.
In every one of our organisations we have a mock incident, at least three mock incidents
a year, and this is about training, this is about working really hard to make sure if
we do have an incident we know what to do and it’s second nature. At least one of
those has to be a full event, so it has to be a full incident practice. And we go to
the level where we have fire service, the ambulance service. We have to put up signs,
it’s so realistic we have to put up signs saying this is a practice run, please don’t
call the press, we’re okay. Those events bring it home to me when we practice
and we do have a significant incident. It makes me feel sick. I liken it to a sports
team. They go out and practice all week and they play one game. We play games every day,
where’s our training? These things don’t happen all the time but they do happen.
And very important for any high risk businesses, so for forestry, agriculture and even construction
which is not as high risk as the other two. And adventure tourism would also be up there
in that category. They should all be practicing what happens when it goes wrong so that’s
a really good example. If you were to look back in three or four
years’ time and say what is the progress you want in New Zealand around health and
safety, for this country, what would it look like?
What would be great is if all of our businesses in Aotearoa took safety seriously. And I’m
not saying people don’t, it’s just a case of going ‘what could happen?’ and looking
at those sorts of things and how we try and eliminate them. How do we stop these things
happening? It’s too often in the news that we’re reading that someone’s died in the
workplace or someone’s been badly injured. And we know that our rates are higher than
they should be in comparison to other countries. We just need to work, we just need to elevate
this conversation, we need to start thinking about it differently and we need to make a
difference. Great, thank you. That’s a lovely place
to end. Thanks Quinton, amazing to be here, very excited to see the outdoor activities,
thinking that I should get out there, but obviously in a safe way.
Looking forward to coming back next time which will be in a couple of months’ time with
our next person to talk about sustainability in the future which I think builds really
strongly off what we’ve discussed today. And thanks to Quinton and the team here in
beautiful Christchurch. Have a nice day.

One thought on “Insights – Championing Cultural Values with Quinton Hall from Ngāi Tahu Tourism

  1. Ngāi Tahu business style?

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